"His length just helps you out tremendously," West Forsyth head coach Adrian Snow said. "He specializes in rushing the passer, containing things. Even if [the opponent] tries to get outside, he can just run and he's so long. He can just reach out and grab you."
Dalton's athleticism stems from his extensive basketball background.
"Jalen has played basketball all of his life – he's one of those kinds of guys," Snow said. "Now I think he's starting to realize that basketball is fun, but football is where his bread is going to be buttered. You can find 6-6 basketball players all over the country. It's a little more difficult to find 6-6 defensive ends."
Prior to his sophomore season, Dalton was promoted to varsity. He didn't earn a starting spot within West Forsyth's defense until midway through the season.
"He doesn't even have a full season's worth of highlights," Snow said.
Dalton has been a true product of the Spring Evaluation Period. Less than a month ago, Virginia extended him his first scholarship offer. Since then Clemson, East Carolina, Florida State, Michigan, North Carolina, NC State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, and West Virginia have followed suit. Florida has also given him a conditional offer – if he visits Gainesville, the offer will become valid.
"It just kind of snowballed," Snow said. "It's been crazy. We've had over 35 recruiters here and I think we'll probably eclipse 40 before it's all over."
Snow attributes the meteoric climb to Dalton's high ceiling.
"The biggest thing a lot of people see is just his upside is immeasurable," Snow said. "At 6-6 – and he is truly 6-6 – and long arms, he has a big old neck, you can see that he will get bigger and bigger. He moves well for his size, but the thing is he's still growing into his body. He doesn't turn 16 [years old] until the middle of August – when he enrolls in college, he won't even be 18."
Dalton is soaking up the attention.
"I'm just taking it all in," Dalton said. "I'm definitely enjoying it."
The only school Dalton has visited is UNC. He attended the football game against NC State and then returned for the Tar Heels' Spring Game last April.
"It's really nice," Dalton said. "The environment is good before the games and I like the staff."
The UNC-NC State football game left the greatest impression on Dalton.
"At the end before he ran the punt back, we were able to go," Dalton explained. "I was like ‘Wait, wait. I think something is going to happen.' And he runs the punt return back and the crowd just goes crazy. It was a great experience."
Dalton plans to expand his horizons this summer. In the coming weeks, he's going to sit down with his parents and Snow and map out a summer travel plan. Among his likely stops are Clemson, Florida State, UNC, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia Tech.
In basketball, Dalton averaged eight points and ten rebounds a game… Dalton's father played basketball at Radford… Dalton is the second major defensive end product to hail from West Forsyth in four classes. Alex McCalister signed with Florida in 2012. According to Dalton, McCalister has offered advice, but isn't recruiting him.